Monday, January 24, 2011

Moving On

So saying goodbye to a project can be bittersweet. I am proud to announce that the script for Project "O" has been completed and sent off to my editor. With that, I have to say goodbye to the cast and world of Project "O" and change gears - move on to something else.

A part of me is really pleased to be done with Project "O" for the meantime. (I mean, the actual nuts and bolts of the game have yet to be completed, but the novel itself is written in its entirety which, in my opinion, is the most painstaking part). I've completed something substantial, that's always a good feeling. Another part of me is sad to see it go.

After all, this project has been a part of my life for nearly a year now. I've been writing these characters for months. To move on from them to something else is going to feel strange. Almost as if I'm saying goodbye to really goods friends - the kind of friends you see every day.

But change and new beginnings are always exciting. The fact that I'm finally writing something else gives me a lot of joy. And I'm sure that I'll become just as attached to my new project as I was to my old one (heck, I've only outlined the next one and I'm already getting attached to these characters). Beginnings are always exciting to me - whether it be in my social life, my professional life, my creative life, or even in my hobbies.

So I'm starting my new Project - Project "S" - with great enthusiasm.

And for the record, yes, this is a still a hobby and there is NO projected date as to when any of these babies will see the light of day.

Here's to new beginnings. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Post About the Boring Part

What, exactly, is the "fun" part about making a game?

Is it the writing, the art, the combining of the elements to make a finished product? The voice acting, the releasing? The promotion?

I think you'll get varied answers depending on who you ask.

I haven't gotten very far in the game-making process, mind you. The farthest I've gotten is the writing element, which can be awesome fun, but also really hard work. Not to mention, and I'll just come out and say this, there are some parts that can be downright boring.

Like right now, I'm probably on the most boring part of my latest work. Right now I'm going back and tying up all the ends I left REALLY loose. Most of them will have to be cleaned up during the editing process. But going back and catching all those little narrative screw-ups is tedious at best.

I'm not a detail-oriented person, so going back and fixing up details is pretty boring to me. What's the boring part of making a game to you guys? The exciting part?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Post About Saying Something Cheesy

Y'know, sometimes I think writers are so afraid of writing something cheesy, they avoid any deep emotional conflict whatsoever.

Having a character confess that they love another character is a pretty dramatic event. Often I'll hear writers say they're "uncomfortable" with writing something that emotionally naked, saying "it'll come off as cheesy". So instead of writing a story that should end with a love confession, they write a story that ends with the two characters waiting in line at Starbucks.

"See, it's more realistic!" they'll say. I disagree. I've been around the emotional block, and love, hate, compassion and pity - all those "cheesy" feelings that writers often skirt around - are so present in everyday life. Every day, someone gets their heart broken, or someone falls in love. Why should those events, quite realistic themselves, be "less believable" than people waiting in line at Starbucks?

I feel the difference is the emotional commitment the writer is asking their audience to make to the story/game. Video games have never been marketed for their "extreme emotional commitment" until relatively recently with certain games (FFX made me cry like a baby, just saying.) Some game makers might say that inserting a deep, heart-wrenching story in a game is a mistake. After all, a player buys a game to play a game, not sob in front of their TV, right? It's an activity meant strictly for entertainment.

I disagree. All the best games I can think of at this moment (Shadow of the Colossus, FFX, Prince of Persia 2008) have all asked for some emotional commitment out of the player by presenting very real and very tragic relationships. I can talk about those games for YEARS, play them over and over again, picking apart their great story-telling every single time. You'll never hear me talk that way about Tetris or Pac-Man.

If you want your game to be memorable, make it memorable. If you want your game to be as memorable as waiting in line at Starbucks, then have them wait in line at Starbucks. But be honest with me. Which of the following stories interests you more?

A.) "So I really wanted a latte, so I waited in line at Starbucks, then I got my latte."

B.) "So I really wanted a latte, so I waited in line at Starbucks, but when I got to the counter to place my order, my ex-girlfriend, Lily, walked in the door, texting fervidly on her cell phone and quietly crying to herself."

Seriously. Which do you want to keep reading? The one where nothing happens, or the one where the characters might actually talk about something important?

So when approaching game-making, I encourage developers to tell the story they want to tell, and not be afraid of "saying something cheesy". I'd much rather play a game with broken hearts and emotional triumphs than eighty levels of Tetris.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Love the Art in Yourself

So recently I've been in a bit of a rut when it came to my art. All sorts of art I mean. My acting, my writing, but most poignantly, my drawing and painting. I would just stared at my drawings and think "this isn't where my skills are supposed to be! I'm supposed to be better than this!"

That, I think, is the most destructive thing an artist can think. Saying "I'm supposed to be better" may spur you on to study more, but it'll also frustrate you and make you constantly disappointed in yourself. How can you love to draw if you're always reminding yourself how much you suck at it?

I talked to an artist friend of mine who voiced these same concerns to me. His art is awesome, in my opinion, but he was still coming down on his stuff. I watched him sketch a bit and, when I went home, I did the same. I just free-handed a bunch of headshots (my favorite thing to do) and let myself enjoy the moment of drawing.

And what do you know, I actually liked the result.

I need to leave myself alone. Stop self-editing. I love the art I do, and while I'm always striving to improve, I need to be happy with where I am now as well. Whatever level I'm at, however much I still need to study, I need to remember why I started doing artistic stuff - because I love it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Post About Bad Writing And Why It Sucks

A bit of a rant here.

It seems like when it comes to media-productions nobody cares if the writing is any good.

I've recently played video games and watched movies with INTENSELY amateurish writing. So much to the point where there is no conflict-resolution, just a jumble of ideas that never reaches any sort of fruition. I see writers spending eighty-bajillion years explaining their intense exposition, boring their readers/viewers to tears, only to throw it all out in lieu of some scene that really doesn't have a place.

Why is it that writing seems like the first thing to go when it comes to large media projects? I've seen people who say things like "I don't need a writer, I've written stuff before." Yes, I'm pretty sure that you learned how to write as a child, unless you grew up in an intensely difficult situation or were born without hands. You've written grocery lists, and book reports, and maybe some e-mails that you thought were just the cleverest things in the world, but until you know how to write a story, you have not written "stuff" before.

Good writing is the kind you don't notice. You're too busy enjoying the rest of the film/game/show to stop and say "wow, this has a comprehensible plot and well-written characters" and that's the way it should be. Often, you don't notice bad writing either. You're just saying "wow, this doesn't make any sense, and wait, why is that happening, and what about these characters, where did they go?" It's only when you have to really sit down and think about what made the project good or bad is when you come up with "The writing rocked/sucked".

PLEASE. Creators of the world.


If you suck, either admit it and get a real writer, or learn how to write. Don't just say "oh, I've written stuff before".

It's an insult to writers and an insult to your audience.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Post About Part-Timing

So I'm officially back in school. For those who didn't know, I'm actually a full-time college student, part time indie developer.

I'm actually taking a class this semester on indie game design and development, which is going to be AMAZING. I'm so excited and I was really lucky to get into the class (there were only eight slots available.) I can't wait to start building projects - it's going to be an intensely fun learning experience.

Another class is on romantic literature (that is, literature about romance, not literature from the Romantic period). That should also really inspire my own writing, especially in my Ren'Ai games.

And then all my theater classes. Big surprise here - I'm not only a full-time college student/part time indie developer, I'm also an aspiring actress! I know, I'm a little eclectic.

Creating games on a part-time schedule is tough. With all of my classes, rehearsal, and club commitments, I barely have any time for game developing. That's why I've given myself all the time I need to get my projects out. I haven't really announced any of my games, my studio is currently nothing but a blog, my deviantart has a few pieces from my game artwork, but those are so conceptual I really can't consider them "official artwork".

The truth is, I can't really announce my projects until I have enough content to give at least semi-frequent updates. I don't want to disappoint fans or lose momentum. The worst thing a developer can do is announce a game and then let the hype die. So for now, I'll just develop quietly and at my own part-time pace. After all, college papers don't write themselves. (Sadly enough.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Post About Stitled, Nasty-Ass Dialogue

Okay folks, a bit of a rant here.

There's nothing that bothers me more than bad dialogue. You know what I'm talking about. The type of dialogue that reads like this:

Sam: But Jill, I know that you and your father have been wanting to move away from here for a while, but there's no way you have the money to leave now!

Jill: I don't have a choice, Sam. It's either leave now or have Grandpa come back and stab us in the back again! We may be poor, but we're not going to let ourselves be taken advantage of so easily!


Have you EVER heard human beings speak like this? Technically, the sentences are fine! Grammatically correct and everything. But DEAR GOD how they sound like robots.

Real humans converse with much fewer words, especially in English. Not only that, but both Sam and Jill speak exactly the same way. There's no difference in their language, in the words they choose, in the length and density of their sentences.

A rewritten, better version of this exchange:

Sam: Look Jill, I know you want to get out of here, but you really don't have the money right now.

Jill: I don't care. Sam, I can't stick around waiting for Grandpa to stab us in the back again. Just because we don't have any money doesn't mean we're gonna let anybody take advantage of us.

See? Don't they sound MUCH more like humans? But I bet we could make this better. Let's make Sam a high-end kinda guy - maybe a fancy attorney, and Jill his trailer-park-resident high-school sweetheart.

Sam: Jill, listen. I know you want to get out of here, but you just don't have the money to move.

Jill: I don't care! What am I supposed to do, stick around waiting for Grandpa to come and stab us in the back again? Me and Dad are getting out of here whether we got any money or not, Sam. We're poor, not suckers.

Hey! This is fun! Let's try it another way. Sam is Jill's nervous subordinate at a shipping warehouse and Jill is his immediate supervisor. Let's say their relationship is an amicable one, but Sam is still a little nervous about speaking up to Jill.

Sam: Jill, I just...I don't know... I get why you wanna get out, but - I don't know - do you really have the money to move right now?

Jill: I don't really care. We aren't letting my Grandpa take advantage of us anymore. I'm tired of getting stabbed in the back, and so's Dad. So that's it - we're outta here.

Or my favorite! TEENAGERS. <3 Teenagers speak with even FEWER formal parts of speech than adults and use a lot of slang/shortenings. HOWEVER, they don't sound like Jersey Shore obsessed fluff brains all the time. Observe:

Sam: I dunno, like, it doesn't sound like you have enough money to move.

Jill: Don't care - Grandpa's been totally stabbing me and Dad in the back for years. So now we're doing something about it. We're poor, not stupid.

So yeah.

Basic lesson: dialogue is SUPER important and it ticks me off when people write it crappy. I mean seriously - you talk everyday and hopefully, people talk back at you. LISTEN. Maybe even eavesdrop on a conversation and write it down. See how real people talk. It'll be a big help.